Mancozeb (MZB) is a worldwide fungicide for the management of fungal diseases in agriculture and industrial contexts. Human exposure occurs by consuming contaminated plants, drinking water, and occupational exposure. There are reports on MZB's reprotoxicity such as testicular structure damage, sperm abnormalities, and decrease in sperm parameters (number, viability, and motility), but its molecular mechanism on apoptosis in testis remains limited. To investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in male reprotoxicity induced by MZB, we used primary cultures of mouse Sertoli-germ cells. Cells were exposed to MZB (1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 μM) for 3 h to evaluate viability by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and oxidative stress parameters (lipid peroxidation). Cell death and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling were measured in these cells using flow cytometry and western blotting. In addition, some groups were exposed to N-acetylcysteine (NAC, 5 mM) in the form of co-treatment with MZB. Mancozeb reduced viability and increased the level of intracellular ROS, p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) MAPK proteins phosphorylation, and apoptotic cell death, which could be blocked by NAC as an inhibitor of oxidative stress. The present study indicated for the first time the toxic manifestations of MZB on the Sertoli-germ cell co-culture. Redox imbalance and p38 and JNK signaling pathway activation might play critical roles in MZB-induced apoptosis in the male reproductive system.
Keywords: Mancozeb; Sertoli–germ cells; apoptosis; mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway; oxidative stress.